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“Just Trying to Get Some Traction to Get Sober…”

“Just Trying to Get Some Traction to Get Sober…”

“Just Trying to Get Some Traction to Get Sober…”

Last weekend I was hiking with my daughter Lauren and her boyfriend John at Lake Michigan. They were visiting from Florida. We had already climbed a dune (like walking straight up a 600 foot mound of sugar) and when we hit the beach I was weary. John and I had showcased our mad hiking skills, by running up the aforementioned hill. In the aftermath, he said he could feel the tips of his lungs. I just wanted to sit on a driftwood log and eat the honeycrisp apple that was weighing down my backpack…


The beach was like wet sugar. Or more like cement before it dries. I kept trying to get some traction, some purchase under my footfalls, but I was sinking ankle deep in sand. I was miserable, until Lauren (fresh as a bow sprint) discovered  the hard packed sand near the water’s edge. When I got a grip under my boots, it made all the difference in the hike, and I was able to enjoy myself and improve my attitude.



Conserving Your Strength…

The fact is, John and I should have conserved our strength for the long haul, instead of showing off. (Even though our cardiovascular prowess, early on in the journey, was impressive). We should have looked at a map and thought the sojourn through to its conclusion…



What goes down must come UP…


I love metaphors. We just unearthed one at Sanford House. The fact we are  refurbishing historic buildings AND lives at the treatment centers. So, when I got an email from Daisy this morning, saying she was, “Trying to get some traction to get sober,” the metaphor of the hike immediately sprang to mind.


The Long Haul (Traction)…

Here are my thoughts about getting traction to get sober:

Plan the Trip

The first thing you have to stop telling yourself is that sobriety is a temporary thing. For an alcoholic there is no such state of being. I’d get 30 days into my sobriety (before it stuck) and tell myself,  It’s Christmas – I have to have a glass of red wine at Christmas… (or another version for other milestones). Of course, the whole ghastly mess would start all over again. So, commit to the long haul. You are going to DO THIS!

Break it Down Into Small Pieces

One of sobriety’s greatest metaphors comes from AA. The founders knew that sobriety was too big to fathom in one go, so they told us to take it “one day at a time” and “one step at a time”. I can get that mental picture right now. Look down at your feet. Take the first step.  If I think about the hike in manageable pieces – the drive, the forest, the dune, the beach, the path to the car(!) – I can’t wait to try it again. But slower this time…



In this photo, Lauren is breathing normally and I am not…

Which Reminds Me – Take it Slower


Get the Right Equipment

The same intrepid explorers who scampered up dunes and trudged along a 70 degree beach, hiked in snow later in the weekend. John learned that proper footgear is important to the quality of life.  Here’s the metaphor – get the proper equipment for your recovery. Ask for help, go to 12-Step meetings, go to rehab, find a sober hiking buddy. Tell key people what you are about to embark upon. Accountability and  a red flare when things are not going as planned, can save a life. It can save your life….


And drink Sleepytime Tea. Extra Strength. Go to bed early. Take it one day at a time. Seriously, take it one step at a time…

Daisy – thanks for the inspiration and please let me know what I can do to help….


Today I’m not drinking because I’m planning a hike in cold weather…


When the hike is cold enough to fog the lens – wear proper footgear…

How come you’re not drinking?


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Comments (4)

  1. Tim S
    Nov 25, 2016

    It’s probably no surprise that I think this is an especially (and metaphorically) fine post. Lurkers, take note! Thanks, Marilyn

  2. Who the hell has time to drink?
    Nov 25, 2016

    Dining with delicious food and delicious people last night overlooking the Bay of Acapulco, everyone cheerfully sloshing down wine (after various tequilas) and I cheerfully sloshed down mineral water with fresh lime. Tasted good and had a safe, easy 45 minute drive home….even stopped on the way at Wal-Mart (got in their at 10:45, they close at 11 pm) to buy three frozen turkeys. Life is so much easier (and safer) NOT drinking. Have very Happy Holidays wherever you will be. xo Jim

  3. Alice
    Nov 25, 2016

    I never want to go back to that place of wet sand…

  4. Marsha
    Nov 26, 2016

    How come you're not drinking?
    I'm not drinking because I want to do what others won't do so I can live my life like others can't.
    Thank you Marilyn for this post. Right on. Walking in sinking sand–I got that visual.
    xo Marsha

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